For Kerry Snider, life with type 2 diabetes along has been a journey with plenty of twists and turns: from self-pity to blame to empowerment to fitness camp to finishing a triathlon to some bumps in the road to a sliver of reappearing self-doubt to empowerment once more.
Sound like a whirlwind? This fifty-something, hard-working and frequently traveling executive believes it’s one simple thing: just life. And that she can not only deal with it but come out feeling victorious – with her own personal definition of victory – is exactly what she’s learned on her road through life with type 2 diabetes.
Diagnosed several years ago in her late forties, Snider’s first reaction was anger – red-raw anger focused directly at herself.
“I thought, ‘You did this to yourself,’” she said. “And, ‘you are to blame for this.’” As an adopted child, she has no family history to point to, and looked instead at the fact that she’d been overweight her entire adult life. “I had so much guilt and anger.”
And then a week passed and she had a revelation: Negativity would get her nowhere. “It was time to end the pity party,” she said. “I actually said out loud, ‘what are you going to do about this?’”
What she did was get herself outside and moving, first just a short walk or bike ride to the nearby market, thinking as she went, “I just need to start. And then keep doing it.”
A few weeks later, she attended a diabetes expo in the Denver area, and it was there she found the tool that would help bring her to a new level of determination and self management not only over type 2 diabetes, but also over life in general. Because there she discovered “TeamWILD (We Inspire Life with Diabetes),” which offers a summer “boot camp” for adults living with diabetes who want to improve their fitness level and understanding of how they can be fit with diabetes on board.
“It sounded great,” she said of the camp, which looks to help attendees work toward doing a triathlon or another type of similar event. “But I knew I was not on that level. I said to the TeamWILD folks at the event: ‘I cannot do this.’ And they said, ‘we don’t care. If you can get up off the couch and walk across your living room, you can come to camp.’”
And so, armed with her new determination and fueled by the confidence of the camp, Snider headed out for a week of hard-core training and learning.
And completed a triathlon.
“I was the second to last to come in, but I came in,” she said. Since then, she’s lost a total of sixty-five pounds and learned to work out a sensible meal plan, even while constantly being on the road for work.
“For me, it was actually about eating more,” she said of what she learned from TeamWILD. “It’s not good to just drink coffee all day and then eat a huge meal at night. I’ve learned and made adjustments.”
So much that a year ago, when she had to have some major surgery, she was able to maintain her weight loss while not being able to work out. “I stuck to the eating plan,” she said with pride.
But a second surgery, and more recently a cancer diagnosis had her doubting herself again. Since she’d been away from exercising, she began to feel that old anger toward herself again. And then she remembered what she’d learned from TeamWILD, perhaps the lesson even more important than how to ride a bike up a hill or run far enough for a race: “If you can walk across the living room, you can do it.”
And so, she began anew, working toward that fitness level again. She’s not yet back to where she was physically, but mentally she is, and that might just be the best victory of all in life with type 2 diabetes along.
“I’m ready to turn the corner again,” she said with confidence. “And thanks to the support I have built through TeamWILD and the experiences I’ve had with them, I know I can. I just have to remember this: everybody falters. As long as you get back up, you’re good to go. The TeamWILD folks have done it, and so will I.”
Who needs New Year’s resolutions when you’ve got a life plan? Kerry Snider realizes just that, “wild” as it sounds.
Moira McCarthy is an acclaimed writer, author, and public speaker who has shared her story – and lessons – on raising a child living with type 1 diabetes in the media, through books, and on her popular blog, despitediabetes.com. McCarthy has appeared on CNN Live, Good Morning America, and Fox News. She was recently recognized as the JDRF International Volunteer of the Year. Her six books include the top-selling The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children With Juvenile Diabetes and the upcoming Raising Teens With Diabetes: A Survival Guide For Parents. McCarthy is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience